A new judging arena for livestock dominates the nearly $7 million in State Fairgrounds improvements and maintenance projects approved over the weekend.
AgStar Arena replaces the outdated Judging Arena and is expected to be essentially complete by April, at an estimated cost of $2.6 million.
The enclosed facility will be used by 4-H, FFA and State Fair open-class participants and for equine and other livestock exhibitions. It was given its name because of a substantial contribution from AgStar Financial Services of Mankato.
The new arena will cover 27,000 square feet, with 15,000 of that taken up by an oval show ring. There will be room for as many as 600 seats.
The razed Judging Arena, a wooden, open-sided structure, had endured many storms over its nearly 50 years and had sapped the fair's maintenance budget.
Among other improvements approved by the governing board: Updates to the Education Building; more lighting and other upgrades to the grandstand ramp; infrastructure work on utility systems; and hundreds of painting, maintenance and landscape jobs around the 320-acre grounds.
All projects are paid for out of the fair's operating income and grants from its foundation. The fair receives no government aid, it noted in a statement announcing its plans.